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see, i knew i could always fall back in their arms. besides, we knew what we wanted. we wanted a pay raise, a six-hour day, a coast-wide contract, and a working hall run by us... human dignity, rank and file democracy and human dignity. but the shipowners, they thought we wanted revolution. well, at least that's what their papers said. [bell ringing] oh, yeah, here's another one. "the communist army plans the destruction of railroad and highway facilities to paralyze transportation and communication, while san francisco and the bay area are made a focal point in a red struggle for revolution and control of the government." [dramatic musical flourish] it's amazing the fear a bunch of wharf rats could stir up, and on may 9th, we went out on our
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first coast-wide strike, and the day of the shape-ups, the kickbacks, and the blue books was over. [light guitar music] ♪ >> ♪ step by step ♪ the longest march ♪ can be won ♪ can be won >> ♪ many stones ♪ can form an arch ♪ singly none ♪ singly none >> ♪ and by union ♪ what we will ♪ can be accomplished still >> ♪ drops of water ♪ turn a mill ♪ singly none ♪ singly none >> we don't intend to repeat our former mistake of one group settling without the other.
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the bosses... the bosses will never use their worn-out technique of divide and conquer with us. [cheers and applause] blacks, yugoslavians, mexicans, italians, irishmen, jew, anybody else, seamen, stevedores, longshoremen, clerks: we're all workers. >> all right, harry. that's telling them. >> we are in this together. >> that's right, harry! >> we're out on strike, and we will stay out on strike until those damn shipowners come to their senses. [cheers and applause] yeah, but we had to come to our senses as well. see, what was one of the ways that earlier strikes, like 1921, had been broken? scabs. [sinister folk banjo music] >> ♪ the scabs crawl in ♪ the scabs crawl out
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♪ they crawl in under ♪ and all about >> now, who were a lot of the scabs? blacks. why? because blacks weren't allowed in the union, so, of course, they were gonna scab. why not? so i spent a lot of sunday mornings going to black churches and asking them not to scab. and after church, i'd go to the strike meeting of the ite longshoremen and tell them that this was going to be a union of workers, that being a worker would be the only qualification to get in. just like the old wobblies, see? well, joe ryan flew in--or came in on a train from the east coast. he met with the shipowners. he got us a pay raise, and he announced the strike was over. he said, "the men will all turn up for work on monday." come monday, nobody showed up... because he didn't get it. [applause] joe ryan didn't get it,
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but it cost us. [gates clanging] july 3rd in san francisco, the gates of pier 38 swung open. the first scab trucks drove through. on the 4th, everyone took the holiday. on the 5th, everyone was back in place. thousands watched from the hills. it was tear gas grenades and riot guns and revolvers. >> federal laboratories and the lake erie chemical company made the finest tear gas and riot guns in the business, and they wercompeting for a prized account: the san francisco police department. when public-minded citizens stepped forward to pay for 1,000 riot guns and $6,000 worth of gas, the companies supplied the salesmen to demonstrate their fine products against a few thousands live targets. it turned out that those
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public-minded citizens were none other than the waterfront employers association. [rock music] >> ♪ put the gas mask on ♪ put the gas mask on ♪ put the gas mask on ♪ you ain't got too long [explosions and rapid gunfire] [glass shattering] >> against some bricks and stones and barricades. [explosions and rapid gunfire] then the police started pushing us back to the intersection of mission and steuart streets just off the waterfront, and a police car arrived, and shots were fired.
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[gunshots] two men lay dead. the police said that they had fired in a riot in fear of their lives in the heat of battle. it was no bloody battle. it was a massacre of unarmed workers by the shipowners through the police. both men were shot in the back. now, how is it? what happens that 20,000 or 30,000 american workers become enemies of the state and deserve to be shot in the back by the people paid to protect them just because they're out on strike? how is that? why in the beautiful city of san francisco were there those tear gas grenades and riot guns and revolvers and 6,000 national guard... and machine gun nests...
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and armored cars, all to be used against american workers? now, the shipowners announced that they'd broken the strike. see, 'cause men and women have died before and been forgotten, but not this time. the shipowners said it was all over, but we were just beginning. [somber music] ♪ on july 9th, we held a memorial service at the union hall. it was one of the few times in my life i couldn't find any words to say. then we put the bodies on a couple of flatbeds,
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two more trucks for the flowers, then an honor guard with american flags and union banners, and we marched up market street, 15,000 longshoremen, dark suits, bare heads, marching eight abreast in silence, and 50,000 people watching in silence. all you could hear was the shuffle of feet, and way up the front was a little union band playing some beethoven. there was nothing else. >> a river of men flowing up market street like cooling lava, the solemn strains of dirges
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and hymns, unaccountable thousandof spectators lining the street with uncovered heads, overhead, a brilliant sun in a cloudless sky. in life, they wouldn't have commanded a second glance on the streets of san francisco, but in death, they were borne the length of market street in a stupendous and reverent procession that astounded the city. >> it was one of the strangest and most dramatic spectacles that has ever moved along market street. its passage marked the high tide of united labor action in san francisco. as the last marcher broke ranks, the certainty of a general strike, which up to this time had appeared to many to be
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a visionary dream of a small group of the most radical workers, became for the first time a practical and realizable objective. >> everything changed. see, the public realized we were just a bunch of working stiffs like them. then 63 other unions voted to join us in a general strike, and starting at 8:00 a.m. on july 16th, the san francisco bay area fell into silence. it started on a monday, lasted three days. that's not bad, you know, for a general strike in america. and in the arbitration that followed, we got a pay raise. we got a six-hour day. we got a coast-wide contract. we got a hiring hall that,
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when it came down to it, we ran, but the most important thing: we went out as wharf rats, but we came back as lords of the docks. [upbeat music and applause] yeah. [cheers and applause] [exhales] so, yeah, victory, or should i say, "round one"? 'cause we only had a two-year contract. so we started expanding, first into warehouses on the waterfront and then uptown, then inland, and we were trying to keep the maritime federation together, a federation of all the workers on the docks and on the ships, and the shipowners were still trying to break the bunch of us, so round two. we had another strike... [sighs] the end of the maritime federation, we won in '34. to everything we added on a few things, and this time, we did it without
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scabs, without bloodshed, and with every port on the west coast closed down. hmm, poor roger lapham. roger lapham, the president of the american-hawaii steamship company. he was so tired out by the strike, he went on a five-month cruise. me? well, i went into hospital and had half my stomach taken out. see, it's always a class struggle. i prefer beer. round three, 1937, was a big one. we finally told joe ryan to go to hell and formed the international longshore and warehouse union. [cheers and applause] yeah. in case any of you don't know or haven't looked at it lately,
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i'd like to read to you from the preamble of our constitution. you could say i'm kind of proud of it. "since the beginning of history, mankind has struggled individually and collectively for political, economic, and cultural betterment and has found the greatest ability to make such advancement through democratic organization to achieve common aims. therefore, we, who have the coon objectives to advance the living standards of ourselves and our fellow workers everywhere in the world, to promote the general welfare of our nation and our communities, to banish racial and religious prejudice, to strengthen democracy everywhere and achieve permanent peace in the world, do form ourselves into one indivisible union." [applause]
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now we had a uni. oh, yeah, and now i had something else. you see, when a foreigner, an immigrant gets involved in strike committees and organizing and other non-american activities, and he wants to become a citizen... here we go. 1934: the ins, every immigrant's favorite organization, investigated me looking for ties to the communist party. "the investigation of the alien referred to above"--ooh, isn't that a great name: alien? don't you all wish you could be aliens? all you have to do is go someplace else, and then you would be, see? it's easy. anyway, "the investigation has failed to show that he is in any manner connected with the communist party or any radical organization."
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yeah, well, you know, our union's pretty damn rad-- no, no, never mind that. never mind. 1936: the first investigation by a congressional committee. >> the subcommittewill please come to order. >> and i said that even though they had followed me for years, and they had, and they'd bugged my hotel rooms and tapped my phones and gone through my wastepaper baskets... "great blocks of ice falling out of cigar boxes into overcoat pockets, all covered in stupidity." tear it up, in the basket. go out for five minutes, come back, it's gone. they're in the next room trying to put it back together, figure out what the hell it means. and carbon paper, they loved carbon paper because they had these big magnifying glasses. see, so a friend of mine had a secondhand furniture shop. all his carbons: in the basket. and sometimes, i would take a pair of scissors, and i'd leave them one of these. they never thanked me once.
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anyway, after all that, no evidence found. 1937: investigation by the department of labor. no evidence found, but they issued a deportation warrant anyway. 1938: now, this one had a bit of class. james landis was in charge of thisne, the dean of harvard law school, see? we had some long conversations when i was up on the stand. i mean, never mind the case. we talked about unions, capitalism, civil liberty, communism. and i had betty, my daughter, with me. i spent more time with betty in that little hearing room than i had done in years, because i was out on the road a lot organizing for the cio. it was my job. i don't suppose it was a lot of fun for betty, but she loved the ferry. oh, yeah, see, this was all too dangerous to hold in san francisco. every morning, we took a ferry to angel island out in the bay.
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yeah. anyway, after 7,700 pages of testimony, although i suppose quite a bit of that was me and landis talking, he wrote his opinion of the government witnesses. he threw out the lot of them, but these are my three favorites: "miles g. humphrey, a witness whose tendency to prevarication was almost pathological." "john leech: in evasion, qualification, and contradiction, leech's testimony was almost unique." "and stanley m. doyle, in one word: shabby." i enjoyed that. oh, yeah, and no evidence was found, so the department of labor gave up. oh, yeah, something else in '38. scrap iron, crude oil bound for japan: we refused to load it. we didn't like the way they were bombing those cities in china, and we figured it just might come back at us one day, see? same way as we refused to
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load some german ships because of hitler and some italian ships when mussolini invaded ethiopia. "an injury to one is an injury to all." [cheers and applause] and i'll tell you something else. interfere in the foreign policy of our country: sure as hell. that's our job. that's our right. that's our privilege. that's our duty. [cheers and applause] foreign policy is too damned important to be left to the striped-pants set in washington, d.c. [cheers and applause] mind you, speaking of the big boys, now they got involved. >> ♪ oh, oh, ooooh ♪ what congress done to me
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♪ oh, oh, ooooh >> yeah. >> ♪ what congress done to me >> i'll tell you what congress done to me. they done h.r. 1644, a bill in the house of representatives introduced by mr. allen of louisiana: "to direct the deportation of harry renton bridges. be it enacted by the senate and house of representatives of the united states of america in congress assembled that notwithstanding any other provision of law, the attorney general be and he is hereby authorized and directed to take into custody forthwith and deport forthwith to australia the alien harry renton bridges." it was a fine debate. "congressman fish, the time has come to find out whether harry bridges, an australian alien, or the congress of the united states runs this government." i think he was overestimating me a little bit there. anyway, the vote was 330 to 42
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to kick me out. well, the attorney general pointed out that it was unconstitutional, so the senate passed the hobbs bill, which said something like, "harry bridges and others of similar ilk." well, "ilk" was also unconstitutional. now, are you still with me on this? because we've got 14 years to go, but i'm gonna condense it a little bit, okay? oh, yeah, and by now, i had a defense committee, because these trials cost money. we had a fundraiser in los angeles at the shrine auditorium. movie stars came. yeah, it was kind of exciting. and then this folk group, the almanacs, they wrote a song about me, and they came to san francisco, and they sang it at local 10. >> ♪ the bosses ♪ brought a trial ♪ to deport him over the sea ♪ but the judge said ♪ he's an honest man ♪ i got to set him free ♪ then they brought ♪ another trial to frame him ♪ if they can ♪ but right by harry bridges ♪ stands every working man
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>> yeah, you know, the guys liked it so much, they had to sing the whole damn thing again, all six verses. and on the way out, they were slapping them so hard on the back that one of them, woody guthrie, they nearly knocked him down. he was just a little shrimp of a fella. and anyway, 1941: judge sears--judge sears was not a dean of harvard law school, although he got some interesting advice. "my dear judge, if harry bridges is deported, he is more than likely to organize the whole british empire against us. he is a dangerous man and should be kept where we can watch him. our very good friends of the british domain have more than their fair share of troubles already. patriotically yours," signed, "i.c. clearly." you know, when you're facing deportation, you'll take any friends you can get. mind you, carol king, one of my lawyers, she got some advice as well. "dear mrs. king, i am writing to you as a jew, as i am told
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that you are also jewish. i'm sending a copy of this letter to mr. grossman and mr. gladstein, guessing that they are also of our race," blah, blah, blah. "the one point i wish to call your attention to is that whoever of the three members of mr. bridges' counsel is a jew, you are inconsiderate of the jewish problem existing in the world when you engage yourselves as you have done in a trial of the nature of mr. bridges' trial. you are exposing jews of the nation to unfair accusations, that jews are all communists, that they are fermenting trouble in the country by trying to keep bridges here, that they will stoop to serving radicalism for money even if they are not communists and so on. mr. bridges is even being called a jew, because they say three jews are defending him. the wise thing for mr. bridges and yourselves as jews, if you are, would be to dilute the defense with some non-jewish legal counsel." i had a damn fine defense.
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it did not need any diluting. besides, if my union was open to workers of every religion, so was my defense. anyway, carol king, she could write a letter herself. listen to this. "all i have to say is that you are a bastard. and the next time you behave like this, i wilmurder you in cold blood. why at least couldn't you have telegraphed me that i was gonna have the job instead of delaying the news by two days because you was idiot enough to think you were gonna flatter me with sweet and superfluous words in a letter with which few kind words you can now all go to hell. carol." and this was written to richie gladstein, who was part of my jewish defense team. you should have seen letters she wrote to the other side. anyway, same case, same witnesses, this time: guilty. well, the board of immigration appeals overturned the verdict. then the attorney general overturned his own board. then the supreme court
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overturned him. oh, and by the way, there was a war going on, and we wanted to make it very clear whose side we were on. [sprightly music] >> keep it moving. ♪ keep it moving. yes, this is the win the war aim of the international longshoremen's and warehousemen's union, the cio organization of men and women who distribute and deliver, who load and unload on trucks, on trains, and on ships, all the vital materials of war. >> damn right. but, you know, aer the war, we lost a lot of jobs on the waterfront, and some of the old-time white longshoremen said the black workers should be the first to go. i said then that if all the jobs on the dock were to disappear, if they were to dwindle away and all that was left was just two jobs, just two, and i had my way,
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i'd make damn sure that one of them went to a black worker. [applause] and... and here's the thing, see, i have every right to be prejudiced, because i was brought up in a racist country. i was taught that white people were superior, but i learned better, see. 1945: i was having my own war... with agnes. i was suing for divorce on the grounds of habitual drunkenness, and she was suing me on the grounds that i had a kid, julie, by a new york night club dancer, nancy. well, we were both right. so that was the end of that. but i got custody of betty, and i set her up living with friends of mine here in los angeles, because, well, you know, i was out on the road a lot organizing, i mean, for the cio. i had thousands of men to organize.
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hell, what was i supposed to do? i couldn't stay at home every night with a wife and kid. [gentle guitar music] ♪ "my own betty, i guess it could be julie or robbie or cathy, really. i suppose that in many ways and at many times, i have not been at hand to help and advise you and in many ways neglected you when i might have foregone some of the many business and social activities i engage in to spend more time with you, but i do know that the little girl i had so much fun with when she was a baby learning to walk and talk and later on in her early years is now rapidly
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growing up into a beautiful, gracious, and very intelligent young lady, and although it may seem to her that when i'm around that i do not express the fact very much or very well, i love her and admire her deeply and am determined not only to make sure that nothing i do will shame her but also to do everything to make her proud of me and happy in her own existence." oh, here's the dad's advice bit. "one of the greatest pleasures in this world is being tolerant and considerate of others' opinions, troubles, or problems, and to learn to smile, and be cool and quiet in the face of adversity, and to realize the true values in life are not wealth, expensive clothes, wine, and song but the facts of knowing that none can challenge your motives in life as being other than trying to do the
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greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people." [applause] here's... more stuff about a train trip. "with all my love and fondest hopes for your future, your affectionate dad." 1945: at the swearing-in ceremony for my citizenship, there was a surprise affidavitg from a surprise witness saying i was a communist but under another name from agnes, my recently divorced trouble and strife, so the jddge said-- betty was right there-- "are you now or have you ever been..." no.
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i pledge÷allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and i was a citizen. so now a citizen could take on the big boys. see, '47, we were thinking of going on strike, and truman-- president truman--said that if we did, he'd use the army to load the ships. he'd use the navy to sail the ships. so we sent some wires to our longshore friends round the world, and the white house got all these telegrams saying, "sure, go ahead. use your army to load your ships. use your navy to sail them. when they get to our ports, they'll sit there and rot." and that was the end of that bright idea. [cheers and applause]
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so now, brothers, we are out on strike, a strike voted on democratically by the rank and file, and they used the taft-hartley act to make us go back to work and then for a cooling-off period, as if we are hotheads, have to be cooled off just 'cause we're out on strike. then the bosses make their final offer. oh, yeah? the only final offer a boss ever makes is the one accepted by the workers. [cheers and applause] and then as the final little slap in the face to us, we had to vote on this final offer, they said, and the national labor relations board set up those polling stations up and down the west coast for us to go and vote, right, on the final offer. well, i have here the official results of that vote.
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i think you might like to hear them. >> all: yeah! >> the united states of america, the national labor relations board... >> the united states of america, the national labor relations board in the matter of the waterfront employers association and the internional longshoremen's and warehousemen's union certification. following the submissions of the final enquiry to the president of the united states by the board of enquiry, it is hereby certified that pursuant to section 209b of the labor management relations act, the national labor relations board conducted a final offer ballot among the employees. >> "the number of eligible employees." that's us. >> all: yeah. >> "26,965." >> yeah! >> "the ballots marked yes: zero." [cheers and applause]
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>> "the ballots marked no: zero." [cheers and applause] "the ballots challenged: zero. total ballots cast: zero," and that's the end of that bright idea. [applause] so, nancy, she looked like a million dollars. we got married. we had robbie. life was good, eh? two more trials. first one: same case, same witnesses. this time: guilty, me and my lawyers. i got five years in jail. i was out on bail. i happened to say that i thought there should be an immediate cease-fire, because we're in the korean war now, and a settlement negotiated by the u.n. just like when we go and negotiate a contract. well, for that, they threw me back in jail, which i did not like, not one bit, although, while i was there, i did read
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12 books, i put on 15 pounds, and i organized the guards into the teamsters. [laughter and applause] never miss an opportunity to organize, see? anyway, we appealed. i got out. we went to the supreme court. we won. one more trial: we won. and then, finally... over. now, i've got three things to say. first, it was the constitution of the united states that was the rock upon which the rank and file built their support of me, and that's what got me free, not the courts. second, i never took any of this personally, because just like and given big dinners, when i was being attacked or people were trying to get rid of me, it was really the rank and file that was
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being praised or attacked. i was just an easy target. and third,as i guilty? of 95% of the charges, yeah. did i work with known communists? yeah. did i advocate worker control of the means of production? yeah. did i want rank and file democracy? yeah. did i want social security? yeah. did i want a national health system? yeah. was i a member of the communist party? no. so there you have it. 21 years, and the answer is no. so... i had won my citizenship, but i lost nancy. see, i came home from a trip organizing for the cio like in the letters, and she'd gone. she'd moved out with the kids,
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moved in with another man, a union officer, an ilwu union officer. [laughter] you know, i never saw it coming. i mean, i can go into negotiations. i can take the whole damn contract in there in my head, but this, i never saw it coming. so i found a new friend for company, old quaker. it's a damn fine whiskey, and for a couple of years, i think kept them in business single-handed right through the divorce. it takes a while, a thing like that.
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then i met nikki. two weeks later, we were in reno to get married. they turned us down. see, it's nikki sawada, japanese-american, and in nevada, they had this antimiscegenation law: forbid marriages between races. i kept saying, "but i'm the foreigner." [laughter] so i phoned my lawyers, 'cause now i needed help to get married, and we went before a judge, and he said we had the right to, and so we did,
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and nevada got rid of the damn law, and so did a few other states as well. [applause] right, but, you know, in 1933, hitler sent a bunch of guys over here to study that antimiscegenation law to use it as a basis for some of their anti-semitic laws. now, it seems to me-- and i might be wrong, but i don't think so--that we sent a bunch of boys over there to get rid of that nazi stuff and a lot of those boys never came back. and now 16 years later, there's 20 states have still got that law on their books, and they don't want to give it up. maybe that's something else the ilwu should take a stand on, hmm? >> right! [cheers and applause] >> anyway, we had a honeymoon, only a couple of days, 'cause i had a big trip to europe: soviet union, england, denmark, israel, workers of the world meeting longshoremen. no, nikki didn't come. this was union business.
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see, i'd finally found someone who understood that union has to come first. that's my job. now, when i go on a trip, i know when i come back, she's here. so one more kid: cathy, no more divorces. no, now, the fight's with the rank and file. [ship horn honking] [seagulls squawking] [elephant trumpeting] "mechanization," which on the waterfront means "containers." now, i'm going to sit down and shut up in a minute. no, i know, thank god for that,
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hmm, but one last thing. see, mechanization has been going on for thousands of years. the bosses have always been looking for ways to get more out of the workers, and sometimes the workers don't want to give any more, and they go out on strike. there was probably a strike when we went from the stone age to the bronze age, because the bosses probably figured they could get more productivity now that they had bronze, and the workers wanted to keep things the way they were, see? now, the ilwu, we've always done a very good job of keeping things the way they were, of holding back on productivity, of protecting our members' jobs, but sometimes you have to change, but trying to sell the idea of that change to the rank and file was bloody hard work, and for a few years now, i've "een getting my rear end chewed out on a regular basis. [men speaking angrily] yeah, but sometimes you have to change. now, we've already won that one. those days are long gone.
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realistically, machines are here, and they're here to stay. machines make easy work. [men speaking angrily] they are a part of giving us our high standard of living, the highest standard of living in the world, or so we're told, so we'd like to be in the position to welcome the machine. >> all: no! >> i know, i know, but it's a simple question of this. >> i'm important. >> of course you are. we're all important. every worker's important. >> we're gonna lose jobs-- >> and now the question is, what share of the savings in the profits of those machines should we get? that's what we're gonna negotiate for. i make less money than any of you. i'll trade my paycheck with yours any day. i'm telling you, and i tell them, "any technological progress," as they call it, "that's made at the expense of the workers is not progress." [men speaking angrily] but i'll tell you now, it seems to me, and i might be wrong, but i don't think so, that machines are here, and
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this is not a time to fight but to negotiate. >> all: no, no, no! >> well, that's how i see it. >> don't sell us out, harry. we trust you. >> don't sell us out, harry. we're trusting you, harry. >> i won't sell you out. well, it took three years, and then 35% voted against it, and some of the fellas said that i'd sold them out, that i was going soft. that's all right. that all goes with the territory. i mean, sure, i'd like to go back now and renegotiate. nobody thought it would save the kind of money it's saving, but that's hindsight, isn't it? it's so bloody accurate and so bloody useless, and as long as i'm president, i'll do whatever it takes to protect this union from anyone who's out to get it, whether they're inside or outside the union, and that goes for lawyers. lawyers have a job to do. if i get myself in trouble, it's their job to get me out, but until then, this union is run by the elected officers, and if you don't like the way i run it, you can vote me out, but if you
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can't wait that long, you can start a recall going, because we made it very easy to get rid of your officers. [applause] but, you know, i... you know, when i was in jail during the korean war, and a lot of the fellas thought i was full of sh... but when they saw those pictures in all the papers of me behind bars--and the papers loved to print those--some of the fellas said, "look, we know he's a bastard, but he's our bastard. give him back to us, and we'll deal with him." [laughter and applause] i knew i could always fall back in their arms. and, you know, where are you gonna you put your faith? you're gonna put it in the labor movement.
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there's no other place. i mean, if you can't depend on the labor movement... see, we--we stand, as we always stood, with the working people of our country and the working people of the world, and we intend to go forward, and we can be re of one thing: there'll always be a place for us somewhere, somehow, as long as we see to it that the working people struggle on, fight for everything they have, fight for everything they hope to get, for dignity, equality, democracy,
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to oppose war, and to bring to the world a better life, see? >> ♪ waltzing matilda ♪ waltzing matilda ♪ you'll come ♪ a-waltzing matilda with me [cheers and applause] >> thank you. thank you. >> an era was coming to an end, and in 1977, harry retired after
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40 years as president. he became an elder statesman of san francisco, sought out to join the boards of charities and commissions, and when the files of the american communist party were opvn in moscow, harry was listed... as a member of the party's central committee. but then, harry had always been sought out to join boards. and the central committee didn't necessarily ask or care whether you were a member of the party or not. so harry's trials are over, but the debate goes on. he would probably not have wanted it any other way. [upbeat mambo music] ♪
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>> ♪ harry, harry ♪ harry bridges mambo ♪ harry, harry ♪ harry bridges mambo >> the ports of los angeles and long beach combined have 14 terminals and nearly 200 giant hammerhead cranes unloading ships carrying up to 4,000 containers, and on any given day, you can see up to 200,000 containers waiting on the dock, waiting to be loaded onto a ship or a truck or a train. the days of the shape-up and the blue books, of the despair and desperation are long gone, and the fight of 1934 is easily
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forgotten as if it were not just from another era but from an entirely other life. >> and what would harry think of all this? he said that, "men should not be forced to work as mules, that it could break down the body and break down the spirit. there are no mules here, just 200,000 containers. it seems to me, and i might be wrong, but i don't think so." --harry bridges.
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captioning by joe at captionmax >> ♪ step by step ♪ the longest march ♪ can be won ♪ many stones can form an arch ♪ singly none ♪ and by union what we will ♪ can be accomplished still ♪ drops of water turn a mill ♪ singly none ♪
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>> ♪ step by step ♪ step by step ♪ oooh-oooh-ooooh-oooh ♪ step by step ♪ step by step ♪ step by step ♪ oooh-oooh-ooooh-oooh
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♪ step by step >> ♪ he told the sairs ♪ to unite ♪ and most of the seamen ♪ followed harry ♪ 'cause they figured ♪ that he was right ♪ well, they carried him away ♪ to angel's island ♪ it was there ♪ that he had his trial ♪ they wept and sighed ♪ and lied and cried ♪ but harry licked them ♪ wh a smile ♪ now, this is a song ♪ about harry bridges ♪ and the union battle ♪ he did fight ♪ said unionism is americanism
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♪ and i figure that ♪ he's just about right ♪ wer is thetruggle of memory against forgetting." >> ♪ oooh-oooh-ooooh-oooh ♪ step by step >> i wanted to make a film about harry bridges becae we have to remember the good part of our american history. we have to know that an
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australian could come to america and contribute so much to the american labor movement and at the same time contribute to america, and i think that in these times, to know that about history is an important thing. and since i'm a filmmaker, that's what i wanted to shoot. >> well, i was sitting at home innocently, and somebody said, "haskell wexler called and wants you to do something on a guy named harry bridges," and i said, "whatever he wants." [laughs] so that's how i got into this. it wasn't--i didn't know anything about harry bridges. i didn't know anything--i dicn't know the almanacs had written a song about harry bridges. i had no idea. you know, living on the east coast, it wasn't--or in the mountains, it wasn't something i was familiar with, and then i started investigating, of course, just to know a little bit about what we were doing, so i called
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up pete seeger, and i said, "pete, tell me about harry bridges. tell me about this song that you guys wrote." he said, "well, arlo..." >> i was one of three people who wrote a song about him in the spring of 1941, when the u.s. government was actively trying to deport him. why? not because he'd done anything wrong. because he'd been too good a union leader. anyway, here's the song. ♪ let me tell you of a sailor ♪ harry bridges is his name ♪ an honest union leader ♪ that the bosses ♪ tried to frame >> ♪ he left home ♪ in australia ♪ to sail the seas around ♪ he sailed across the ocean ♪ to come to 'frisco town ♪ there was only ♪ a company union ♪ and the bosses had their way ♪ us workers ♪ had to stand in line
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♪ for a lousy buck a day ♪ when up spoke harry bridges ♪ said us workers ♪ must get wise ♪ our wives and kids ♪ will starve to death if we don't get organized ♪ ♪ oh, the fbi is worried ♪ and the bosses ♪ they are scared ♪ they can't deport ♪ six million men they know ♪ and we're not gonna let them ♪ send harry over the seas ♪ we'll fight ♪ for harry bridges ♪ and we'll build the cio ♪ we built a big bonfire ♪ round the matson lines ♪ that night ♪ we threw ♪ their fink books in it ♪ and we said ♪ we're gonna fight ♪ you've got to pay ♪ a livin' wage ♪ or we're gonna take a walk ♪ we told it to the bosses ♪ but the bosses wouldn't talk ♪ we said ♪ there's only one way left ♪ to get that contract signed ♪ and all around ♪ the waterfront ♪ we threw our picket line
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♪ they called it ♪ bloody thursday ♪ the fifth day of july ♪ a hundred men were wounded ♪ and two were left to die ♪ oh, the fbi is worried ♪ and the bosses ♪ they are scared ♪ they can't deport ♪ six million men they know ♪ and we're not gonna let them ♪ send harry over the seas ♪ we'll fight ♪ for harry bridges ♪ and we'll build the cio ♪ now that was ♪ seven years ago ♪ and in the time since then ♪ harry's organized ♪ thousands more ♪ and made them union men ♪ we've got to try ♪ to bribe him ♪ the shipping bosses said ♪ and if he won't ♪ accept a bribe ♪ we'll say that he's a red ♪ the bosses brought a trial ♪ to deport him overseas ♪ but the judge said ♪ he's an honest man ♪ i've got to set him free ♪ so they brought
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♪ another trial ♪ ando frame him ♪ was the plan ♪ but along with harry bridges ♪ stands every working man ♪ oh, the fbi is worried ♪ and the bosses ♪ they are scared ♪ they can't deport ♪ six million men they know ♪ and we're not gonna let them ♪ send harry over the seas ♪ we'll fight ♪ for harry bridges ♪ and we'll build the cio ♪ oh, the fbi is worried ♪ and the bosses ♪ they are scared ♪ they can't deport ♪ six million men they know ♪ and we're not gonna let them ♪ send harry over the seas ♪ we'll fight ♪ for harry bridges ♪ and we'll build the cio >> ♪ let me tell you ♪ of a sailor ♪ harry bridges is his name
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♪ an honest union leader ♪ that the bosses ♪ tried to frame >> he was revered by some, hated by others, a hero, or the devil incarnate. >> i would have worked with the devil himself if he was for the six-hour day and worker control of the hiring hall. 1932: the whole country was desperate. capitalism wasn't looking so good. you know, revolutions were happening. maritime workers, who'd long been considered little more than ignorant roustabouts, we took history into our own hands, and it felt good. well, for that, they threw me back in jail. although, while i was there, i did read 12 books, i put on 15 pounds, and i organized the guards into the teamsters. [laughter and applause]
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>> he was revered by some, hated by others. >> i would have worked with the devil himself if he was for the six-hour day and worker control of the hiring hall. we took history into our own hands, and it felt good. well, for that, they threw me back in jail. while i was there, i did read 12 books, i put on 15 pounds, and i organized the guards into the teamsters. [laughter and applause]
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PBS News Hour
PBS September 1, 2010 10:00pm-11:00pm PDT

News/Business. Jim Lehrer, Gwen Ifill, Judy Woodruff. (2010) (CC) (Stereo)

TOPIC FREQUENCY San Francisco 10, Fbi 4, Joe Ryan 3, Teamsters 3, Harry Renton 2, Sears 2, Cio 2, Carol King 2, Navy 2, Nikki 2, Roger Lapham 2, Australia 2, Nevada 2, Cathy 2, Hitler 1, Uni 1, Union Hall 1, Joe 1, Landis 1, Mr. Gladstein 1
Network PBS
Duration 01:00:00
Tuner Channel 107 (693 MHz)
Video Codec mpeg2video
Audio Cocec ac3
Pixel width 528
Pixel height 480
Sponsor Internet Archive
Audio/Visual sound, color

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on 9/2/2010